Dan Veall reviews the GR Bass Pure Drive. A decidedly versatile Preamp designed for the most demanding bass players but suitable for everyone thanks to its ease of use that allows you to always have all the characteristics of the GR sound in an ultra-compact size.
Made in Italy by a bass player, for bass players, using carefully selected components, the GR Bass Pure Drive is a well-thought bass preamplifier pedal for us low-enders. Yes, it is billed as a drive pedal, yet I want to say immediately that it is capable of some superb 'clean' tone crafting.
We should get on with the feature set then!
Firstly, the Pure Drive is enclosed in a metal shell ready to face the rigours of the road. All connections are side-mounted including inputs and outputs for bass and amplifier respectively, as well as a balanced line output via XLR socket. Handy for running to recording devices, IEM use and for performances, the front-of-house PA system.
The top panel features two rows split up into three sections. Top left controls for your overall input and output levels to balance between engaged and disengaged volumes.
The bottom row of knobs is a well thought out four band equaliser. The two mid-frequency bands have the option to select a different centre frequency; you'll know that I am a fan of semi-parametric equalisers, so the option to change the centres is a wise choice. For extra low end boost a 'deep' switch and for additional top-end sparkle, at the other end of the controls, a 'bright' switch. I like the deep selection as it adds weight without overpowering the rest of the tonal balance in my set up.
Each of the EQ knobs responds well, and there's plenty fo boost and cut available for some crazy settings - though as usual, I advise making small adjustments initially when sculpting your sound.
The On/Off button on one side of the case engages the Pure Drive, over at the opposite end a Mute/Tuner button operates the single display tuner. On testing, it is super accurate and handy for silent tuning when enabled in between performances stood at your pedalboard.
It wouldn't be a drive pedal if the option to saturate your bass sound wasn't offered - stepping on that middle button brings in the drive circuit that runs in parallel to the clean path. This is no ordinary 'thrown on' circuit though! The Drive knob controls your amount of saturation, and there is a master to control level. The final three controls clinch the deal for me is really helping to deliver a good driven bass sound. The Blend means that I can raise or lower the level of the driven sound in comparison to the clean sound. This is important when creating a really solid foundation bass sound. Pure Drive offers two gain structures with the inclusion of a Drive Mod push switch. Fast access to dialling the type of distortion you want.
Now, I don't like overloading the input of a drive pedal with excessive low-end frequencies. Its sounds stodgy, it sounds incoherent at higher gain levels. Well, turns out GR Bass are thinking the same by installing a Low Filter 'pre-EQ' before the drive circuit. Punch the button and low end being fed into the drive circuit is attenuated. This tightens up the drive sound that only helps to serve the bass punch we need too. Carefully blending in that clean bass signal again and you'll have a really rich drive sound that can still hit hard.
Overall, the saturated sound from the Pure Drive is well crafted and also very easy to dial in grit. Aggressive edged top-end saturation still sounds controlled, I found rolling back the top end for a more mid present grind worked well too with my set up.
If you are looking for an all in one amplifier with a drive circuit on board, check out GR Bass' amplifier range, especially the Dual 800 that boasts some clever dual signal path features.
The pedal is very versatile as both a clean and driven preamplifier that although feature-rich, is dead easy to navigate. It's good to once again see thought going into creating a pedal that really works for the bassist.
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